LSU baseball drops series finale to Arkansas

Brady Domangue and Kyle Bouman had a chat in the dugout during LSU’s 10-4 loss to Arkansas on Sunday.

The discussion between the pitchers can be surmised in one sentence, Domangue said: “Dang, we felt good today.”

“But you know what?” he continued. “We gave up home runs.”

LSU’s search for a No. 3 starting pitcher may be just beginning.

The Tigers gave up two home runs — including a first-inning grand slam — and walked six in the loss at Alex Box Stadium, failing to win the final game of a Southeastern Conference series for the fourth time in five tries.

The No. 3 starting pitcher situation is a “concern,” coach Paul Mainieri said afterward.

“That’s something we’re going to have to address very strongly,” he said.

Bouman, the starter, lasted just one inning, and his replacement, Cody Glenn — an option for that No. 3 role — faded as LSU dropped its first game in April. The loss snapped a seven-game winning streak for Mainieri’s team heading into a week in which the Tigers will play four games in five days.

LSU (27-9-1, 8-6-1) meets Southern Miss on Tuesday at Zephyr Field in Metairie and then plays its first Thursday-Saturday series of the season at Ole Miss.

Meanwhile, the Tigers continue to search for a No. 3 starter behind ace Aaron Nola and freshman Jared Poché.

“We can’t go trade for anybody. That’s for sure,” Mainieri said. “They don’t let you do that in college. We’ll just see.”

Arkansas (22-15, 7-8) exposed the Tigers’ weakness.

Blake Baxendale hit a first-inning grand slam off Bouman before Glenn eventually crumbled in the fifth.

Bouman, making his second start in a month after recovering from a sprained ankle, had a rough, 14-minute top half of the first inning. He loaded the bases before recording the first out — a double, single and walk — and then allowed Baxendale’s slam well over the left-field wall.

“It’s just demoralizing when you’re right out of the gate and you’re down 4-0,” Mainieri said.

Glenn pitched the next three innings and allowed one hit but walked three and had a throwing error. It was his longest outing in three weeks.

His replacement, Domangue, allowed a double and a two-run homer by Eric Fisher, his third of the series.

The Tigers had just four hits and couldn’t take advantage of a shaky start by Arkansas’ Chris Oliver.

Heralded as the Razorbacks’ best pro prospect, Oliver walked or hit six of his first 13 batters. The Tigers got only a pair of runs over that stretch, on a single from freshman Jake Fraley.

LSU stranded two runners apiece in the third, fifth and seventh innings.

The real issue, though, is the Sunday starter.

“We’ve got the guys to do it,” Domangue said. “I think today wasn’t our day. I don’t think we need to look into anything. … We’re going to move up from here and get after it. Pitching is not an issue for us. We’ve got a solid staff.”

Halfway through the SEC schedule, LSU has won one of five series finales: last week’s 17-4 romp over Mississippi State. In five Game 3s, the Tigers have allowed 36 runs and have used four starters. Those starters have gone a combined 13.2 innings and have allowed 15 earned runs.

Bouman has been up and down. Zac Person and Kurt McCune got their shots on previous Sundays, but they allowed a combined seven runs through less than four innings in their starts.

What’s the plan going forward?

“You go with the best available guy (for Game 3),” Mainieri said, “whether that’s been a traditional starting pitcher or not. Just got to go with the guy that gives you a chance to get you off to a good start.”

Bouman remains an option, as does Person and even freshman Parker Bugg, Mainieri said.

“We knew going in that the options were limited,” he said. “We’re just going to have to figure out something.”

Mainieri expected to have four more pitchers this season who could work into the weekend rotation. Hunter Newman and Russell Reynolds are out with injuries, and Dylan Williams (arrests) and David Palladino (drafted) never made it to campus.

Arkansas coach Dave van Horn knows the feeling. He has been without a set No. 3 starter before.

“I think Paul and his staff, they’re going to keep running guys out there until they figure it out,” Van Horn said. “It’s a process sometimes.”

Bouman won the final weekend starting gig over Glenn during the season-opening nonconference schedule.

On Sunday, Glenn retired his first seven batters before a rough stretch in the fourth inning resulted in one run. He walked Fisher and allowed a single to Bobby Wernes. Glenn then snared a comeback grounder from Jake Wise, quickly turned toward second for the double play but threw wide of the bag, scoring Fisher.

Glenn started the fifth by walking the first two batters, and Mainieri pulled him for Domangue.

So who’s up for the next Game 3? Who knows?

“You try to keep a positive attitude,” Mainieri said, “and do the best with what you got.”